Growing in the eco-village

It’s Sun­day, and it’s pour­ing with rain at eco-vil­lage Zuiderveld. Y., three years old, is bored inside. We play with the Lego, but his eyes keep wan­der­ing to the win­dow. He imme­di­ate­ly spots it when one of his friends appears in the gar­den. Yes, there is a break in the rain and we can go out­side! The wadi, the large ditch in the mid­dle of the gar­den, has filled up with water. 

Our eco-vil­lage is locat­ed at the edge of a new res­i­den­tial area. It con­sists of three rows of hous­es, which are arranged in a U‑shape around the gar­den. There are ter­raced hous­es as well as apart­ments. We live here with about 60 adults and 30 chil­dren. Every­thing is social rent. There is a com­mon room, the Ger­linde, with a kitchen and sev­er­al meet­ing rooms. And there is a guest room that any­one can reserve for their guests.

The chil­dren con­tin­ue to flock to the wadi. With­in a few min­utes about ten of them are play­ing in and around the water with sticks, pieces of wood and buck­ets. Every now and then some­one slips down the slip­pery slope and ends up in the mud. We’re quite used to mud. When we start­ed the eco-vil­lage a year ago, the gar­den was noth­ing but a mud field. By now, it is start­ing to look great, but there is also still a lot left to be done.

The same is true for the oth­er aspects of our lives here. Build­ing a com­mu­ni­ty takes time. The restric­tions on group meet­ings are delay­ing the process even more. Some­times our com­mu­ni­ty seems as frail as the spindly trees that the munic­i­pal­i­ty has plant­ed around us. The tasks that have to be done and the deci­sions that we have to make, can weigh us down. But we keep grow­ing and face the winds that scourge the bare soil head on.

Per­haps the most impor­tant thing I learned at Zuiderveld is sim­ply mud­dling along. To accept that you some­times slip up and get mud on your clothes. It keeps me ground­ed, close to the earth. Instead of dream­ing about an idyl­lic par­adise, I dis­cov­er har­mo­ny in the small things. Every chance encounter in the Ger­linde, every job that is done togeth­er, and every Sun­day after­noon that ends with wet socks, is proof that the com­mu­ni­ty is alive.